Considering Photo London was my first artfair visited since the beginning of pandemic times, it seemed remarkably normal. Other than face masks (that we’ve all become accustomed to), a few one way routes, and being less crammed than usual, it was pretty much the same as always. Stand out for me this year was a superb selection of mid to late 20th century British photography scattered throughout. Had I a budget, I would have easily found something to bring home.
Top of my list would have been Agecroft Power Station, from 1983 by John Davies. Likely my top landscape work from the past 100 years. Then there was a stunning print of House and Coalmine from ‘78, printed by Chris Killip who was busy in darkroom catching up with his archive the past few years before sadly succumbing to lung cancer last October. Peter Cattrell’s incredible Fenced in Gulley, 1986, and a series of luscious Bill Brandt figurative works from the 1950s (so much better in person than off the pages of books), would have also been in my sights.
It was great to see Michael G Jackson has been busy pursuing his darkroom ‘Luminograms’. Loving the suggested still life of his latest direction.
But, my favourite contemporary works were a series of portraits from the ‘Migration’ series by Alia Ali. Within, the sitter is camouflaged and vanishes amongst patterns of the fabric they are wearing –– intelligent, gorgeous work.
A surprise discovery (there’s always one), were two self portraits by Annegret Soltau from 1975. Soltau stitched patterns following contours of her face –– decades ahead of any other photographic thread-and-needle intervention I’m aware of.
As always seems to be the case with my visits to Photo London, I spent too much time in the contemporary tent, and not allowed enough time for the special exhibit situated in the depths of Summerset House. This year featured an extensive exhibition of Robert Capra’s work, deserving of fresher eyes than I was able to give.
By the end of 4 hours of looking, I was thoroughly saturated and given a good dose of inspiration and motivation. But I crave more… Paris Photo 2021?